Infant First Aid

When your baby gets hurt -- be it a bug bite or a bruise -- knowing how to care for her can help ease your anxiety. Here, first-aid tips for treating minor boo-boo's:

Scrapes and Cuts: If the wound doesn't appear to need stitches and isn't bleeding heavily, wash it with gentle soap and water, then pat dry. Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic (like Neosporin) and cover with a Band-Aid. If you notice any signs of infection (like redness, swelling, or pus), see your pediatrician.

Minor Burns: Run cool water over the affected area to soothe pain (don't apply ice-it damages skin tissue, causing more discomfort). To protect the skin, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly, and cover with a bandage. If blisters appear, don't drain them-open ones are easily infected.

Sunburn: When outdoors, infants and toddlers should always be protected from the sun with a hat and 30 SPF sunscreen (Sunscreen isn't recommended for infants under 6 months; instead, keep your baby out of direct sunlight and dress her in protective clothing.) But if your baby gets a sunburn, soothe it with an aloe vera-based cream. You can also administer over-the-counter pain relievers, like Tylenol. If vomiting or fever occurs, it means the burn is severe and you should see your pediatrician.

Bug Bites: Most insect bites and stings look like firm, raised bumps. Care for a bee sting by gently scraping out the stinger with a sterile pin or tweezers. Put a cold compress on the area to relieve pain. (Note that many kids are allergic to bee stings-if rapid swelling or wheezing occurs, get medical help immediately.) Mosquito bites are especially common in babies -- the bugs are actually attracted to the hemoglobin in infant blood. Clean and dry the bite, then apply an over-the-counter itch relief cream, like Benadryl ointment. To keep your child from scratching, cut her fingernails and keep them clean.

Knots and Bruises: Apply an ice compress to the area to help numb pain and reduce swelling. To relieve soreness, administer an over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol or Ibuprofen. If your child seems lethargic, disoriented, or vomits after bumping his head, seek medical care to check for a concussion.

Motion Sickness/Nausea: It's best not to give babies and toddlers medication for nausea -- doctors say it can make stomach upset worse. Simply let your child rest and call your pediatrician if symptoms worsen or don't subside within a few hours.

Kristyn Kusek is a health and lifestyle writers whose work has appeared in Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Parenting, The New York Times, and Lifetime TV Online.

The content on these pages is provided as general information only and should not be substituted for the advice of your physician.

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